Crafty Despres Takes Rally dos Sertoes Lead
Cyril Despres’ Rally dos Sertoes gamble has paid off with the Frenchman taking control of the race lead at the end of stage six.
Entering the most crucial part of the rally – the marathon stage – Despres knew that a calculated performance over the two-part 800km stage would be essential in claiming the race lead.
With his rivals dictating the pace on stage five – the marathon opener – Despres held back. Determined to preserve his tyre and moose for the following day, he crossed the finish line over two minutes adrift of stage winner Paulo Goncalves.
But with his tyre in a much better condition that his rivals, the Frenchman looked forward to the next day to come.
“Given that I lost a place overall it might seem strange that I’m delighted with how everything went,” told Despres at the end of stage five. “As we are on a marathon stage we aren’t allowed to change our tyres tonight so the priority was to preserve the tyres as much as possible while losing as little time as possible. And if you could see the condition of my rear Michelin compared with everybody else’s tyres you’d understand why I’m so happy.
Cyril Despres worked the Rally dos Sertoes terrain to his favour… © Ricardo Leizer
“You couldn’t say it is like new but I have a lot more tread left than the others and tomorrow we will have to ride another 354 kilometres on the same tyre. Part of the ‘charm’ of rally-raid is that you never know what will happen but sitting here in the bivouac this evening I know that I have at least a chance of posting an interesting result tomorrow.”
True to plan, Despres’ gamble began to pay off during stage six. Race leader Marc Coma was first to fall foul as the marathon stage took its toll on the KTM rider’s rear wheel. With a damaged wheel, Coma lost a lot of time nursing his bike to the finish as Despres surged past.
“Starting third on the road this morning I came up behind Marc (Coma) quite quickly on the special and it was obvious he was in difficulties with his rear mousse,” confirmed Despres.
Shortly after that the Yamaha rider then hit the front of the field as the Goncalves also slowed.
Despres will start stage seven with a five minute lead © David Santos Jr
“Not long after that I caught a ‘reluctant’ piste opener Paulo Goncalves and lead him all the way to refuelling. The closer I got to the end of the special the more I accelerated and over the last kilometres rode flat out to finally finish around six minutes ahead of Paulo.”
Capitalising on his rival’s misfortune, Despres jumped from third to first in the Rally dos Sertoes but more importantly holds a five minute 15-second advantage over Goncalves. However, with four stages still left to run, the Rally dos Sertoes is far from over – a fact not lost on Despres.
“I had a reasonably good idea how to approach this marathon stage and the result is everything I had hoped for – but it hasn’t been an easy couple of days. The whole time on the bike I was conscious of taking care of the rear tyre and mousse, while not losing too much time and constantly calculating the remaining distance and the situation of my rivals. The mental gymnastics were almost more tiring than riding the bike!
“It’s clear we are in a good position, but there is still a long way to go and myself and the whole team will be staying focused on the job still to do.”
Results – Rally dos Sertoes (after stage six)
1. Despres (Yamaha) 15:35:05 hrs 2. Paulo Goncalves (Speedbrain) +00:05:15 3. Przygonski (KTM) +00:22:08 4. Metge (Yamaha) +00:27:45 5. Julio (Honda) +00:32:51